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Gaming History You Should Know – The Failure of New Coke January 17, 2021

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It’s Sunday, time for a new Gaming History You Should Know, a series where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries about the history of gaming. Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the biggest failures in the history of capitalism, which had gone on to serve as a stark reminder to all successful companies ever since. That’s right you guessed it, we’re going to talk about the time New Coke was released.

I know what you’re thinking, New Coke is a soda, it has nothing to do with gaming whatsoever, so why are we highlighting it here? Oh my, you sweet dear. Gamers have been drinking soda while gaming since the dawn of the hobby, and while everyone has their own personal preferences (Bawls, Mountain Dew, Pepsi) we cannot dismiss the ongoing success of the Coca-Cola Company, and their line of products including Coca-Cola Classic, Sprite and Diet Coke. In fact, programming god John Carmack was well known for his love of drinking down Diet Coke while working on his games at id Software, and I’m sure he isn’t alone.

Coca-Cola had been a successful company and known as the US’s favorite soda for nearly a century. However, by the 80s, heavy competition was starting to get distributed nationwide. Pepsi, a rival cola, had increased its market share, and many consumers believed that was due to the fact Pepsi tasted better than Coke. Coke, after doing tons of blind taste testing, believed they found a new beverage formula that tasted better than Pepsi, and that new beverage could wipe Pepsi out.

With this new flavor in mind, The Coca-Cola Company announced they would be changing the taste of Coke to this new focus tested soda, and branded it New Coke. Obviously, it didn’t work, and the company reversed course. After its fall, New Coke would go on to be nearly every comedian’s analogy for failure. Some people even assumed it was some nefarious trick pulled by the company to increase sales in the long term by intentionally releasing a bad product in the short term to trick consumers into thinking they may lose out on restocking their favorite beverage. In fact, most people remember that train of thought being the inspiration for a Futurama joke in the episode where the characters visit the Slurm factory.

Was there more to this story? Was it a conspiracy? YouTube icon Company Man, who has discussed everything from the demise of beloved toy stores to the origins of Dippin Dots, produced a fantastic documentary about the origins and the fallout of New Coke. If you’re a fan of Coca-Cola or not, you should totally give it a watch!

Let’s be honest, this whole fight was over personal taste, and that’s subjective. Every person will have their own personal preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, this seemed to be a rare case of EVERYONE universally agreeing they didn’t want Coke to change, and the company had to bow to their consumers’ will.

Did we ever see New Coke again? Yes, in many forms. For a while, cans of New Coke would share store shelf space next to the (now rebranded) Coca-Cola Classic, until its supply ran out. There was a push to bring it back during the 90s, and people might remember seeing bottles of something called Coke II at their supermarket at that time. Due to its poor label design, I incorrectly assumed it was some kind of store brand knock-off and never purchased it but apparently Coke II was New Coke. More recently, Coca-Cola partnered with Netflix to promote Coke during the launch of Stranger Things season 3. The show, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a period piece and that specific season happened to take place at the same time New Coke launched. While they couldn’t actually SELL New Coke (maybe there was an issue with it being approved by the FDA for sale) they gave it away during many points of that summer, including to people who visited the Atlanta plant.

I actually still have a can of the stuff hanging around somewhere. If there’s a demand, I could do a taste test video of it down the road.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Tamagotchi January 10, 2021

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Happy Sunday everyone, time for another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming history videos from across the web. Today, we’re going back to the 90s to tell a story about a well known gaming property that influenced an entire industry.

Most kids of the 90s remember Tamagotchi. Released by Bandai, it was a simple LCD game that allowed you to create and care for a virtual pet. You could feed it, clean up after it, and play simple games with it. The graphics weren’t the best, even for the time, but the hardware was inexpensive and designed around the concept of portability and interactivity.

YouTube Channel Billiam, who I’ve seen produce some incredible videos about older electronic devices from the late 90s and early 00s, made this great video about the Tamagotchi you all need to check out. Maybe after watching it you’ll see the appeal of the gameplay, or if you’re like me you’ll find the technology behind it quaint. Check it out below:

I know that the video showed a very simple game that might even look primitive in the standards of today’s smart devices. However, let’s be honest, your smart device may be powerful, fast, and have a pretty screen, but it requires constant recharges over the course of a week. By choosing to use simple hardware, Bandai gave the Tamagotchi long battery life, a simple but clean interface, and a potential for device interconnectivity using IR or NFC.

Since its release, virtual pet games have mostly moved to smartphones and tablets. However, it’s hardware design lives on and we’ve seen companies ranging from Sony, Sega and even The Pokémon Company try to copy it.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Workboy, GameBoy’s Unreleased PDA Peripheral January 3, 2021

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Happy New Year everyone, welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming history content from across the web. Today, we’re going to be talking about some gaming history that has been long since forgotten, mostly for the fact it was never released.

While most people use their smartphones and tablets to manage their day to day notes and communication, smartphones as we know them did not exist before 2007 when the iPhone was first released. However, pocket sized electronic devices capable of note taking and rudimentary wireless data exchange were available since the early 90s, we called them PDAs.

PDAs, short for Personal Digital Assistant, were tiny computers capable of storing electronic notes, as well as include some basic programs including an address book, calendar and calculator. Since PDAs were powered by simple batteries, you would need to regularly back it up to your PC or Mac so not to lose data. The most famous PDA was the Palm Pilot, but Apple had their own PDA called the Newton.

Being small, portable computers capable of storing data and running programs, PDAs were not cheap. They may run off store bought batteries but their hardware still required a low power CPU, static RAM (for storage), and a monochrome LCD screen. This alone would put a PDA price at around $150-300 USD. However, a better option was on the horizon. At the start of the 90s, a handheld gaming device was taking over the world. Called the Game Boy, it was priced at around $80USD and featured a monochrome screen, several interface buttons, a CPU, a sound chip, a serial port, and the ability to run an enormous library of games through expandable ROM cartridges (called Game Paks), the Game Boy was every kid’s essential device for a family road trip.

A company called Fabtek was interested in answering an important question, “Could we add the capabilities of a PDA to the hardware of a Game Boy and deliver a product that could be cost competitive in a time PDAs were seeing incredible use by the enterprise market?” Enter, the WorkBoy. Unfortunately, despite being previewed in an issue of Nintendo Power, it was never released.

Did You Know Gaming, one of the biggest channels in the history of YouTube, produced this thirty minute webisode about the history of this unreleased peripheral. Check it out:

Sorry about the lack of consistent content over the holiday season, you can be sure that regular uploads will resume this week. We’ve got an upcoming written game review, an essay, and at least one new video on the way!

Gaming History You Should Know – How Catherine Became a Professional eSport December 6, 2020

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It’s Sunday and that means it’s time for a new Gaming History You Should Know, where we discuss and highlight some of the best fan produced documentaries about the history of gaming! Today we are going to be talking about one our favorite games of all time in one of the most unusual ways. We make it no secret we loved the game Catherine with its incredible story, art style and puzzles. However, one thing we haven’t really talked about when it comes to this game is a part of the game that at first glance seemed tacked on as an afterthought, its competitive 2-player mode.

Now, we are hardly eSports players here (unless you count Quake 2 or Unreal Tournament LAN parties back in the late 90s) but eSports have grown to become the biggest competitions in the world, with huge prize money and die hard fans. One of the biggest recognized competitive events is EVO, which regularly hosts fighting game competitions that pit the best video game players in the world against each other. As a joke, Catherine was added to the event’s game list. It was expected to be a joke, until some of the players started to actually play. The crowds went absolutely nuts at just how good the gameplay was.

So how did a game with no online multiplayer become one of the biggest competitive games? Enter YouTube channel Akshon Esports, which produces INCREDIBLE videos about the history of various competitive events. They produced this documentary about what brought Catherine into the world of eSports, and how it is doing to this day.

Catherine is out now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Catherine: Full Body is out now for Nintendo Switch and PS4.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Halo 2’s I Love Bees Campaign November 28, 2020

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Hope you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving Holiday and welcome back to today’s featured article of Gaming History You Should Know. As we head into the weekend, I wanted to bring your attention to one of the most well-known and fondly remembered pieces of gaming marketing in the history of the entire video game industry. It all started with a strange website.

In 2004, Halo 2 was gearing up for a November release. A sequel to the Xbox launch title Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 was one of the most anticipated games of all time. In fact, I remembered being blown out of my seat when I watched the game’s live demo at E3 2003. I had played the original game on the PC when it rereleased in 2003, but with no indication it’s sequel would ever see a PC release, I decided to buy the Xbox console just so I could play it when it first launched.

A few months before the game launched, a commercial for the game began to be shown at movie theaters across the US. While this would be considered no big deal nowadays, it was a huge deal at the time. When the video was finally put online, viewers worldwide noticed something weird in its last second. A strange site, ilovebees dot com, was superimposed over the official Xbox website for about a second at the end of the video. People who visited the site found a odd blog about beekeeping which looked like its HTML code was badly in need of maintenance.

What was the ilovebees site? It was actually a new type of game, dubbed the ARG, for Alternate Reality Game. But what was the game’s purpose and how did it tie into Halo 2’s marketing campaign? YouTube Channel Rocket Sloth is a Halo archivist and historian. A lot of his videos have either proven, debunked or exclusively solved some of the biggest mysteries in the history of the Halo franchise. Today, we’re going to be highlighting his incredible documentary on Halo 2’s I Love Bees event. Bees, my god.

Halo 2 is out now for the Xbox and PC. It is part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Series X/S.

Gaming History You Should Know – The McDonalds DS Training Cartridge November 27, 2020

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the biggest independently produced content about the history of gaming. I told you guys that our article on Wednesday would not be the only burger-themed article we would be talking about this holiday weekend, and today’s featured article should not disappoint.

Everyone should be familiar with the fast-food restaurant McDonalds. Love it or hate it, it is one of the biggest companies worldwide, with billions of dollars in sales from burgers, fries, sodas and chicken. I’m sure everyone reading this article has eaten food from them at least once, or at least fondly remembers the fact they offered free Nintendo Zone WiFi service for Nintendo 3DS units at around the same time they improved their coffee. After I got my very first Nintendo 3DS XL, I remember actually making many trips there to download the latest exclusive Nintendo content, and swap StreetPass data with the location’s previous users. It was a great time to be a Nintendo handheld gamer.

McDonalds employs thousands of people, and as such has to create new ways to keep employees refreshed on working procedures. But what is the best way to train employees in today’s day and age? Most companies use textbooks and training videos, McDonalds Japan decided to create a video game. The platform? The Nintendo DS, the biggest selling handheld console of all time. The method? An exclusive McDonalds training cart that was distributed to a very select group of employees.

Many people believe this exclusive DS game did not exist, despite the fact a major news organization did a piece about it. However, given the recent dissolution of the Nintendo DS platform, many believed if a training cart ever existed the copies would’ve likely been lost or destroyed by now. Now is the time for me to introduce our hero.

Nick Robinson created an incredible documentary that is being talked about non stop all over the internet. It details his search for the elusive McDonalds Japan training cartridge. This is no easy feat, due to the global pandemic, international travel, as well as importing/exporting international goods, have almost entirely ceased. Join him as he tries to obtain this elusive game and his quest to unlock the game’s data. I believe this video is so well made it is worth being shown as an episode of NOVA on PBS.

Next time, we will be highlighting another special marketing event. You could say, this was Microsoft’s first attempt at something on the scale of Quantum Burger. The only difference is, MANY people fondly remember this event, and there is a feature-length documentary about it. We will talk about that tomorrow.

Gaming History You Should Know – The History of Pikachu in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade November 26, 2020

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know! I know I promised you guys a burger themed history video yesterday, but I happened to find this incredible video earlier today and had to share it with you all.

The Pokémon franchise has endured for nearly twenty-five years. It has had ups and downs over the years but is currently seeing a second Renaissance of popularity thanks to the incredible success of games like Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield. You already know its most popular mascot, the adorable Pokémon Pikachu, has appeared in spin-off games, toys of all sorts, and even feature films but did you know Pikachu has appeared in homes every Thanksgiving for the past twenty years?

Department store Macy’s is one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the United States, and for as long as I can remember, they’ve held a yearly parade every Thanksgiving Day featuring floats, balloons, and musical performances by Broadway cast and marching bands from all over the country. Many of these balloons and floats feature the biggest franchises of the time, and as of today the biggest franchise of the past twenty years, Pokémon and its mascot Pikachu, has made an appearance at the parade every year for the past twenty years.

Today, we will be featuring YouTube Channel PatMac, which did a fantastic history video on the history of Pikachu’s appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I can’t imagine a better video to watch in anticipation for Turkey dinner than this.

As someone who has been watching the Thanksgiving Parade this morning I can assure you Pikachu was in attendance, marking his twentieth year of appearance. I can’t find video of the appearance online just yet, but from the looks of it, his Thanksgiving reveal just may be the kick off of Pokémon’s 25th anniversary celebration! Stay tuned here if more details are coming!

Pokémon games are available on many platforms including the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS, 3DS, Switch and smart devices.

Gaming History You Should Know – Quantum Break’s Quantum Burger Event November 25, 2020

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the greatest independently produced documentaries about the history of gaming. I know it isn’t Sunday, but my fellow countrymen will be enjoying a feast during a national holiday tomorrow and we decided to spend this extended weekend that otherwise wouldn’t see too much gaming news spreading the word about gaming history.

Today, we will be doing something a little different. The event we will be discussing was in fact so little known, up until this time no documentaries have been produced about it. That means I’ll be talking about it myself, which would be a lot easier if I had actually attended and participated in it myself…but I didn’t, despite the fact I wish I had. With that all out of the way, let’s get started. No pressure, right?

Quantum Break was the first video game announced for the Xbox One. It was not a launch title, in fact I don’t believe it was released until about three years after the console came out, but it was a big reason why I picked up the Xbox One console at launch. Developed by Remedy and published by Microsoft, Quantum Break was a third-person action game which had an in-depth story sprinkled with a four-episode television show.

As Quantum Break prepared to launch in early-2016, Microsoft planned their major marketing push. In the US, we got a live-action trailer that occasionally aired on television (of a scene that doesn’t take place in the game). As far as I know, that is pretty much all we got. However, North of the border, in the land of Canada, Microsoft Canada started a major marketing push.

Microsoft Canada’s plan was to bring a piece of the game into the real world. A burger venue in Toronto would be used as a facade, and people who stepped inside of it would literally step inside the world of Quantum Break. The venue was called Quantum Burger, and from afar to the unknowing eye it probably looked like a regular burger joint. However, we gamers knew better. The venue would appear to be trapped in a stutter of time, what the game referred to as a “Zero State” event, and from the way the venue was arranged it appeared the stutter took place during a robbery. Links to websites and even Xbox Live codes were strewn all over the location, rewarding people for checking it out in person.

Unfortunately, an independent documentary about the event was never produced. Maybe it’s too early for something like that to happen, very few people talk about the greatness that is Quantum Break on Xbox One and even most die hard fans of the game I’ve talked to are completely unaware this event ever happened. CG Magazine did a fantastic write up about the event and you can read it here. As far as I know, only two independently produced videos which photographed the venue actually exist, and neither one of them has drawn a lot of traffic up to this point. The first was done by CG Magazine and I recommend checking it out first.

The second appears to have been done by a fan who visited the location, Keotaro. It is without a doubt my favorite video of the event, the music used fits the clips really well, and the editing was interesting. If there’s just one video you would watch of this whole event, this is the one you would watch.

Unfortunately, since the event was held in real life in only one location, in a country I didn’t even live in, I was unable to visit the venue myself or participate in the event personally. To their credit, Xbox Canada did their own official post-event video, and you can watch it here.

Ironically enough, this is not the only burger themed history article I could write about. Stay tuned for tomorrow when we bring even more gaming history you should know! Until then, stay safe.

Quantum Break is out now for the Xbox One and PC.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire November 1, 2020

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Welcome back, happy Sunday everyone! With Halloween now a distant memory we prepare to move into the winter holidays, which always hold a soft spot in the hearts of gamers. Let’s be honest, the vast majority of game consoles launch in this season, alongside a huge library of new games to take advantage of the new platform’s features.

Let me take you back to the mid-90s. The Star Wars prequels were still years away, but the original films had just re-released on VHS with THX remaster and a new generation of young people (myself among them) were watching them for the first time ever on their home televisions. At the same time George Lucas’s video game company, LucasArts, was in its heyday, producing some of the greatest PC games of all time including Dark Forces, X-Wing, and TIE Fighter.

In the mid-90s fans wanted to read more Star Wars stories, and books that were released as part of the Expanded Universe were selling very well. At the same time, Nintendo was planning to release the Nintendo 64, and Lucasarts was asked to have a brand-new game for the console ready for Christmas! With the first prequel film still a few years away, the various Lucasfilm companies decided to to all-in on an entirely new original expanded story in the Star Wars universe taking place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It would be told across several books, a graphic novel, and a video game. There would even be toys released featuring the new original characters created for the story. It would be called…Shadows of the Empire. If you were a fan of Star Wars, this is likely the best time for you to be a fan.

So welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the biggest independently produced gaming documentaries across the web. Today, we are once again highlighting the great work of YouTube channel Saintmillion. He produced a nearly feature-length documentary about the entire Shadows of the Empire event, how it came to be, what took place during the story, and how it effected the entire Star Wars canon. Enjoy!

It’s really sad to know that after the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, events from Shadows of the Empire are no longer acknowledged.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire is out now for PC and Nintendo 64.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Early History of Virtual Reality October 12, 2020

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I know it’s not Sunday, but where I’m from today is a bank holiday and because of that we’ve had essentially a three-day weekend. I know that’s not the best excuse but hey, I didn’t want to have to wait another week to highlight this great video.

Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, an ongoing series where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming documentaries from across the web. Today, we’ll be talking about Virtual Reality (VR). In today’s day, VR is seeing something of a second renaissance. VR setups like Oculus, Vive and PlayStation VR have a modest install base and even I have to admit I’m becoming an enthusiast.

However, with the power of modern PCs (and consoles) capable of pushing high 3D resolutions, and refresh rates, today’s VR gamers can look forward to a decent immersive experience. However VR is not a new concept and it’s first wave of popularity came in the early-to-mid 90s. 3D games like DOOM were just entering the market, pushing the demand for high-end PCs, and smart businessmen had the idea to provide a gaming experience that made you feel like you were INSIDE the game. Enter Virtuality.

In the early 90s, Virtuality developed (at the time) real-time 3D games with the intention to pair it with Virtual Reality setups. However, due to the cost of computer hardware and limitations at the time, their setups were big, expensive, and graphics were limited to keep consistent framerate. With a single VR unit costing around (at the time) $20,000, home VR setups were just impractical. However, arcades of the day were seeing a second wave of popularity thanks to recent arcade releases like Mortal Kombat, and investing in something like a VR machine and renting time on it seemed like a no brainer decision. This is how I had my first VR experiences.

Check out this great documentary produced by the YouTube channel Nostalgia Nerd. When people of my generation think of Virtual Reality (with all its highs and lows) they think of one of these Virtuality setups!

While the company may have long since folded, sold and resold many times over the years that’s not to say that Virtuality’s VR prospects were a complete failure. While they didn’t have access to the same technology we do today, it is incredible to see just what they could do back then. Since the company couldn’t use the same tiny motion tracking gyroscopes that are so common to have in every smartphone, controller and tablet today (since they weren’t invented yet) the tricks they used to compensate for their limitations should still be celebrated. They were able to produce VR games with full real-time head tracking in the days before even Quake hit the market.

I like to think VR will continue to prosper in today’s technology market. VR headsets for the PC and PlayStation are already out, and they will continue to function on newer hardware. So with the hardware in place, all we need now is the software. That, would be an article for another time.